Taking Stock - May 2015

Watching:  The Mad Men finale. I loved it. The end of another era and such wonderful characters. Who didn't root for Peggy? I thought it was really well done.
Shopping:  For a new car.  Kevin was in a car accident last week, and our car was totaled. Of course I'm happy and grateful that nobody was hurt. Big giant bummer about the car, though.
Loving:  The warm days and cool nights. Sleeping with the windows open.
Eating:  It's still asparagus season! I'm thinking I need to make something with strawberries for this weekend's cookout. Maybe one of my awesome strawberry-almond tarts? I haven't made one of those in a while, and I do love love love them.
Listening: I'm really digging Haunt the House. And the new Mumford & Sons. It's harder, edgier, more of a rock album...and it's good.
ReadingThe Bone Clocksby David Mitchell. His books make my head hurt, but I absolutely love them.
Wanting:  My house to clean and tidy itself. There's so much dirt and sand and spiders and ants this time of year. Ew!
Enjoying:  Little league baseball and soccer. I love watching my boys play. 
Thinking: My attention span is not what it used to be. Focus. Thought. It's all somehow harder, and I'm thinking the internet is at least partially to blame. I've been cutting back, as you can clearly see based on the frequency of my blog posts lately. More importantly, I'm cutting back on surfing/Instagram/FB/news. 
Appreciating:  My new sun hat - I had been searching for one for forever. I didn't get it in time for the Dominican Republic, but I'll have it for future beach trips.  
Discovering:  A somewhat new style emerging in my closet. Skinny jeans/pants with tunics or other long blouses/sweaters. Add cute boots, and I feel pretty good!  Kevin doesn't appreciate my new denim shirt, and I'll admit it's out of my usual style, but I got about 10 compliments on it the first day I wore it. It's good to change things up every now and then. (This coming from the girl who has never had a different hair style!)
Attending:  Aaron's spring piano recital. He worked so hard and learned some difficult songs - he's already better than I am (not saying much, but still), and he's so proud. I am too.
Working:  To get the yard and garden in shape. We spent all day Sunday spreading mulch. I want to get a few big pots of vegetables planted, just to have a little taste of a garden, since the real thing isn't going to happen this year. 
Hugging:  My boys.  All the time. One day they're going to get sick of it. Not yet, though. Not yet.
Feeling:  Good, overall. I'm still getting my footing at my current work project, but it's going okay so far. It will be a busy summer, but full of work and fun and family and life. Broken car aside, all is well.

This was my favorite part of the second-to-last episode. Go Peggy!


Spring Life...

Our house is completely surrounded by beautiful, colorful groups of tulips, and they make me smile every time I pull into the driveway. Many of the bulbs were souvenirs from last summer's visit to Amsterdam - what a lovely memento! We don't get to experience the awesomeness of tulip season in The Netherlands, but I'm so happy we brought some of that awesomeness home with us. 

Work has calmed down for a while now, and I've had a really nice opportunity to catch up on all sorts of items on my personal to-do list. It's good to feel in control. I found out I will be staffed at the same client through the end of the year, and I'm happy - with the client, the commute, the stability...all good things. 

We have more little house projects underway, as always. I laugh every time my husband talks about the day the house is "done". What does done mean? There will always be something - such is the life of a house owner, especially when that house is old! 

Spring has not only brought flowers, but also the start of soccer and baseball seasons. My boys are so excited and happy to be members of a team, to be learning and practicing, and to be having fun. And I am so happy to watch them! I never had the opportunity to be a part of a team as a kid, and I do think it's such a wonderful way to learn how to win and lose, grow in different areas of life, celebrate sportsmanship, and most importantly, make friends. 

Next year Aaron will be playing his games in the Little League fields behind our house - not only will it be convenient, but it will be so much fun. The other night, they wandered over to hang out with friends who were watching siblings play, and as I looked around at the group of parents and neighbors and kids, I felt really grateful for where we live. It's a community in the best sense of the word.  

The summer is mostly planned, although there are a few open weekends left. For one of our big trips, we'll be spending a week on Cape Cod this year instead of visiting our beloved Maine. I will miss Maine, and the pool, but maybe the water will be just a tad warmer? We'll also spend another week at Lake Ontario with family - my sister and her family will be with us for two weeks. It's going to be busy and fabulous and it's going to go by way too fast. They always do. 

But before I start to lament the briefness of Summer, let me first savor each beautiful second of Spring! 


The Dominican Republic

We spent three fabulous nights in paradise. It was a very long way to travel for just a few days, but it was totally worth it. The weather was spectacular, the sun was hot, the pools were refreshing, the people were friendly, the beach was gorgeous, the waves were fun, the drinks were plentiful. I even finished my book! 

A few highlights:  
- Reading under one of those cabanas shown above while the boys played in the water
- Riding waves on a boogie board (I hadn't done that in years!)
- Drinking pina coladas and other tropical concoctions
- Dining at a Japanese restaurant (they cooked in front of us, the boys were entertained, and the food was good)
- Enjoying a bottle of champagne in our room while the boys watched a movie (Hey, it was all-inclusive!)
- Watching the boys swim and play in the pools mostly independently, except when we wanted to go in and play too
- Eating at the dessert buffet

The obligatory "walking into the sea" picture


What I Did on Monday...

The Dominican Republic is so beautiful. We came home on Sunday and jumped right back into our normal routine; except Kevin had to go to San Francisco this week, so I'm on my own. My first day back looked like this:
  • Did 10 minutes of yoga
  • Took a shower, got dressed and ready for work
  • Put a load of laundry in the washer
  • Woke the boys
  • Made breakfast
  • Made lunches
  • Put the load of laundry in the dryer
  • Took the boys to school
  • Drove into the city for work
  • Worked
  • Loaded my car with donations from a clothing drive I organized
  • Delivered the clothing to a local charity
  • Ate lunch
  • Worked some more
  • Commuted back home
  • Got the boys ready to go to baseball practice
  • Attended baseball practice (helped a bit with drills and then played soccer with Nathan while Aaron practiced with his team)
  • Took the boys to a sporting goods store to pick up Nathan's soccer uniform and ball
  • Bought other necessary baseball/soccer gear, including new cleats for both
  • Had dinner at a pizza shop on the way home
  • Got the boys ready for bed
  • Watched "A Good Wife" while folding laundry
  • Read my book for 15 minutes before falling asleep
That's a full day!


Taking Stock - April 2015

Watching:  The Americans. Dark and twisted, but such a great show. Fascinating to see a dramatic show set in the 1980s, too.  Oh and The Imitation Game - have you seen it?  So good. So sad too, though.
Eating:  Asparagus. It's not quite time for asparagus here in New England, but I can't wait, so we've already been eating lots. This past weekend we threw a bunch on the grill - yum.
Loving:  Yoga. I'm in a good rhythm right now, and it feels great, body and mind.
Savoring:  Every sunny day. It's amazing how much I appreciate the warmth of sunshine after enduring this winter.
Listening: To Brandi Carlile's latest album - she's going to be at Newport this year. Also really loving Haunt the House, a relatively recent discovery.
Anticipating: Summer! And all it brings, including visits with my family, who I really do not see enough.
Reading:  Leading the Life You Want.  As I've mentioned, I'm trying to incorporate more non-fiction into my reading list. Self-improvement and all that.
Wanting:  The big crack in my kitchen floor to magically disappear.
Enjoying:  The sounds of baseball from our back yard. I love where we live.
Wondering:  Where my next job assignment will be, and if I will like it, and if it will be manageable, and...
Realizing:  The downside of consulting is the uncertainty.
Feeling: Confident that I am working for the right company and happy that I have the opportunity to work with cool and talented people.
Hoping: Our neighbor will share some of her garden with us again this year. I haven't been able to bring it up yet, and I'm afraid we might not get to have a garden this summer.
Thinking: We can always at least put together a planter garden somewhere - some big pots of tomatoes and carrots and eggplants or something. We can be creative and come up with something.
Noticing:  The house is dirty. We let our housecleaner go a couple months ago. I've been trying - and failing - to keep up with it myself. Time to admit defeat and hire more help.
Laughing:  At my boys. They are a constant source of entertainment.
Wishing:  I had purchased a sun hat a month ago - every one I like is already sold out.  Booo.
Packing:  My new bikini, sunscreen, and a new book. We're going on a trip tomorrow!  Yay!


Recently Read

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides.
This was recommended to me years ago, and I finally picked it up when I saw it at the library. I had no idea what the book was about when I picked it up, and I often like it better that way. This is an epic book, telling the story of three generations of a Greek family, ultimately leading to the story of the main character and narrator, Cal. The family and social history of the story is interesting, from the grandparents in Greece, their love story and journey to America; to the parent's love story and time of social unrest in Detroit; to the journey of self-discovery made by Calliope/Cal. It's a long one, and I admit getting a little impatient during the first two generations, but it's fascinating and definitely worthwhile.

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, by Ron Lieber.
I've decided to add more non-fiction to my reading list. There is always room for improvement, in all areas of life. I had seen a couple recommendations of this book, and its topic is definitely one that is top of mind. Kevin and I talk very often about how good our boys have it and how we want to make sure they recognize that. I liked this book - it's a fast read, and although it contains a lot of practical ideas; most of them are shared through example stories, so the reader can decide what may work best for them.  The subtitle is important, since the primary focus of the book is money. I picked up several new ideas (e.g., my boys now have bigger allowances, with contributions going into spend/save/give jars), reinforced thoughts I already had (e.g., allowance is not tied to chores), and started thinking forward about how we might want to handle certain situations in the future (e.g., how much of their college education do we want them to be responsible for?).

The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty.
This was a fast, easy, and entertaining read. I did struggle a little in the first few chapters of the book,
keeping all the characters straight; but after that I flew. This would be a great book for vacation or traveling. I've heard good things about this author's other books as well, so I will definitely pick up more.


A Few Things...

I know, I know...I haven't posted here in so long. I am definitely out of practice, and the longer I go without posting here, the harder it is to do for whatever reason. I will find my rhythm again, though. For now, I thought I'd share some of the links I've bookmarked recently. 

Happy Patriot's Day!  Today is the Boston Marathon, Patriot's Day, the unofficial start of Spring in New England, a morning Red Sox game, a vacation day for most...and even though it is cold and rainy today, it's still one of the most beautiful days of the year. 

Sara's on Design Mom!

Exhaustion is not a status symbol.  No it is not. Taking breaks, acknowledging your accomplishments, setting boundaries...these are good things!

What ISIS really wants.  This article made my head hurt, but I do try to read things that make my head hurt from time to time. I may have to go back and re-read this one - it's so difficult to get my head around it all!

How one stupid tweet ruined Justine Sacco's life.  An incredibly important article for our time. When the time comes for my boys to start their internet life, I hope I can make sure they understand the responsibility that comes with it.

A growing divide.  This article made me sad and frustrated. What else can we do to help?

Another post by my cousin Krista, this time reflecting on her own childhood experience with divorce.  It is very similar to my own, and I appreciate her honesty, as always.

This article on parenting cracked me up.  It's so refreshing.

Essential movies your child must see before they turn 13.  I'm so excited to share more of these classics with my kids.

I'm intrigued by this app and may start monitoring my own phone use. I definitely want to do
what this author did and place limits on when and how I use my phone. I am so sensitive to the fact that my boys are always watching me.

An interesting Harvard Business Review article about navigating the tradeoffs in a dual-career marriage.

Meals like this are probably my favorite part of Spring.


Let's move on...

source unknown, but this picture makes me happy

Hi! It's been a while, and I've missed this space. It's been a rough couple of weeks, although I don't particularly feel like listing out the reasons why.

My husband comes home at the end of every day and needs to talk. He wants to debrief about his day, especially if it was a difficult one. He needs to hash it out and unload. I am the opposite. I don't like to bring work home, and I mentally shift gears once I leave the office. If I've had a hard day, that's all the more reason for me to leave work behind and focus on other things. This can be an area of contention between us, as sometimes I don't want to listen to his end-of-day dump; and sometimes if I say I had a bad day, he wants me to talk about it! We've learned to compromise over the years and recognize these differences in each other. 

These past few weeks have been difficult for both of us, so there's been a lot of talking and not-talking, but mostly we've just been busy and working way too much. Not much balance. I'm ready to look forward.

And so, we enter April. April! Yay! We survived March. April is my least favorite month of the year, but at least I didn't have to wear gloves this morning. I will probably have my rain boots on every day this week, but that's okay. Rain will eventually wash the snow away (one day!) and bring flowers (I can see the tips of tulips!). We also have a trip planned for the end of the month to look forward to. 

Other things that got me out of my funk: yoga, bright yellow tulips, reigniting after-dinner dance parties, ice cream (my current favorite flavor, especially when paired with this), a brunch with friends, and a new dress that I plan to wear on vacation and all summer long.   


I'm Not Gonna Lie...

This week has thoroughly and completely kicked my ass. I plan to enjoy some sleep and some basketball this weekend and look forward to brighter days ahead. 


Weekend Recap and Making Plans...

I was recently reminded about Waterlogue.  So fun, and yes my house still looks like this. It's supposed to be relatively warm this week, so I expect the mounds will start to get smaller, gradually. We set our clocks forward over the weekend, and it was light outside as we ate dinner last night. Summer is coming!

I had a pedicure and lunch with a friend of mine over the weekend. We've been friends for over 15 years now - long enough to have "do you remember when?" conversations, which is always fun. She's also one of those friends that can really make me laugh - as in, really belly-laugh. It feels so good to do that. We should all do it more. She has three (!) boys now, and she handles everything with such grace; I will forever and always be in awe of her. I adore having such inspiring and uplifting friends in my life. 

The boys were both invited to a birthday party on Saturday evening. A movie-themed party at their house, which is just genius. Kevin and I enjoyed a free date-night, going out to dinner at a new Spanish restaurant in town. On Sunday, we split up - Kevin and Aaron got one last day of skiing in, and Nathan and I puttered around the house, cleaning and laundry and a trip to the grocery store. As annoying as those tasks are, I must admit I had a really nice time hanging out with my little helper all day. We mixed in some coloring and baking to increase the fun factor. (We used up our overripe bananas the way we always do. These banana bars are soooooo good!)

Kevin's 40th birthday is next month - finally, it's his turn! We booked a long weekend away to celebrate, and although we were originally intending it to be a kid-free vacation, Kevin decided that he wanted the kids to have a break from the cold as well. So we will all be heading to the Dominican Republic for a few days. I can't wait! I even bought a new bathing suit and tried it on and didn't cringe at the mirror. (JCrew bathing suits never fail me.) I can't wait to lounge in the shade while the boys play in the pool or the sea. As I look outside at the melting snow, I will be looking forward to this...

From snow and mud to this.  Can't wait!  Picture via here.


Recently Read

The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant.  This is a lovely fictional memoir of a Jewish girl born in Boston to immigrant parents in the early 1900s. Written as a conversation to her granddaughter, it's a beautiful story. I enjoyed reading life lessons through the eyes of the main character, Addie Baum, and I particularly enjoyed it since it was based here in my part of the world.

In the Woods, by Tana French.  In 1984, three friends went into the woods to play. When they didn't come home for dinner, a search began, and only one kid was found - Rob Ryan. Standing against a tree with blood-filled shoes, he had no memory of what happened to him and his friends. Rob moved away, changed his name, grew up, and became a police detective. Twenty years later, a girl was murdered in the same woods, and Rob was assigned to the case. Sounds intriguing, right?  I was pulled right into this murder-mystery, anticipating a resolution that never really came, and although I was entertained along the way, I was ultimately disappointed and sad.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande.  I must confess, I've developed something of a crush on Dr. Gawande. A general surgeon at Brigham & Women's hospital and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, he has written several books and articles. I love his honesty, his beautiful writing, and his genuine desire to dive deep into a subject. This book is not a happy one - nobody wants to talk or think about dying - but it's an incredibly important one. He uses a lot of personal examples, including his own father's death, to convey his message about the role of medicine in our last phase of life. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I would encourage everyone to read it, or at the very least, watch the documentary about it.


Father John Misty - Chateau Lobby #4

This week has been all about Father John Misty. His voice is so silky smooth, and his lyrics are both touching and funny. A few lines from this song from his latest album:

"I wanna take you in the kitchen
Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in
So bourgeoisie to keep waiting
Dating for twenty years just feels pretty civilian
I’ve never thought that
Ever thought that once in my whole life
You are my first time

People are boring
But you’re something else I can’t explain
You take my last name

First time you let me stay the night
Despite your own rules
You took off early to go cheat your way through film school
You left a note in your perfect script
Stay as long as you want
I haven’t left your bed since"

That wedding dress line cracks me up every time, but the overall song is so sweet. 



Enjoying Winter...

I love this one of me and a bundled-up Nathan on the lift

When you have six feet of snow in your yard, what should you do?  Head north and play in more snow!  

We spent a week in the Vermont mountains. Overall, we had a really nice time, despite the initial brutal cold and an accident on the second day that caused a serious knee injury for one of our friends. He will be having surgery this week as a result. That definitely put a damper on the trip, but he maintained an amazingly positive attitude about it all and refused to allow it to impact the rest of us. The conditions were wonderful, and it was nice to see the advantage of getting so much snow this winter. The kids are getting so good, too, which is really fun to watch.

I wonder how many years in a row I can take this same picture from the top

Now we're home and getting back into our routine. The winter is going to get old pretty quickly now that our ski trip is behind us, and I find I'm already dreading spring. Don't get me wrong - seeing my grass again will be nice, but I hate the cold and rainy days of March and April. I'm also going to be working a lot during the next couple months. 

I need to find some positives and focus on those to get me through. Plan some outings with friends, date nights, play-dates for the boys, make some music mixes and spend quality time with new albums, organize an area of the house...anything to help us muddle through the hardest part of the year. I'm grateful to birthday party invitations for the boys, and I'm reminded that Kevin's birthday and my own are both in those awful months, so at least that gives us an excuse to celebrate.

I should remind myself, though - It's not spring yet. A few more inches of snow coming tonight. Maybe we can fit in some more skiing...



I kept hitting snooze this morning, despite my intentions to get up early to exercise. Then I remembered that I would be shoveling quite a bit again today, and shoveling is pretty damn good exercise. You should see my shoulder definition right now.  

This has been a remarkable winter so far. I've lived in Boston for a long time now, and I'm fairly comfortable with snowstorms, but Mother Nature still has a way of surprising us. Three snowstorms in two weeks! Five missed days of school/work. And mountains of snow. Everywhere

It's really no wonder we spend so much of our lives talking about the weather. 

Amidst all the snow days, I've been trying to make sure we're hitting on all cylinders.  I know what my priorities are, and I work really hard to make sure I'm spending time on all of them. Often, I feel like I come up short, but I do have times when I feel pretty good about all of it. The key is to be intentional about it. If I feel like I'm in control over how I'm spending my time, then I have no one but myself to blame if I'm not spending it the right way. That sounds easier than it actually is of course, but you know what I mean.  


My priorities this week?  
- The boys (always #1)
- Work (vacation next week, so work has to take a high spot in preparation)
- Shoveling (did I mention all the snow?)
- Yoga (targeting 3 times, to try to stretch out my tight neck and shoulders)
- Guitar (it's been too long since I picked it up)
- Finishing my book (Kevin's out of town, so this should be an easy one)
- Getting a couple friend gatherings on the calendar
- Vacation planning 


The Decemberists - Wrong Year

This week's music pick is the Decemberists.  I'm digging the new album, and this song isn't even close to my favorite.  Enjoy!


A Couple New Recipes...

Since going back to work, I've mostly relied on our dinner standards, in addition to going out to eat and getting take-out more often than I'd like. I recently decided to go through my giant stack of food magazines, and in doing so, I identified a couple new recipes to try. It was time.

This easy meatless manicotti was good. It's very similar to spinach lasagna. I was worried about how my boys would do with it, but they both loved it! I served with a wheat baguette, salad, and a bottle of red wine. It's a high-maintenance meal, so it's reserved for Sundays, but it makes enough for a leftovers night during the week too.

I had saved a recipe for shrimp curry with coconut rice, but then I couldn't find it or didn't have one needed ingredient. I looked online and decided on this one instead - Coconut-Curry Shrimp. I think the reason I've failed with curry dishes with the boys is that I've typically only included veggies. They are pretty good with veggies, but I thought perhaps I'd have better luck if I tried something different. And it worked!  They both LOVED this dish as much as I did. It was easy, too. I used cilantro instead of basil, because that's what I had, but I otherwise made it exactly as written and served with broccoli. Definitely a keeper!


A Few Things...

Just wanted to share a few interesting reads...

What you learn in your 40s.  I loved this. I am absolutely loving my 40s so far.  Perspective is a beautiful thing.

The Definitive Guide to Healthy Eating.  Brilliant.  Exactly what I think whenever I read a new article about some particular food I'm eating that is supposedly going to ruin my life.

Sarah Silverman Gets Serious at Sundance.  I mostly loved reading this because I hate when people get pigeon-holed.  "People are not all one thing."  Amen.

Teenage Kicks.  My talented friend Lou writes about being a mom of a teen and reminds me of the phases still in front of us.

8 Reasons Why You Should Marry the Complicated Girl.  Here's to speaking your mind and being your own woman, and to the men who decide we're worth it.

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield put together an album of Elliott Smith covers.  There is so much to love about that sentence.

The Mother 'Hood Official Video.  So funny and so true.  We all judge each other, even though we try (some of us harder than others) not to.  Ultimately, though, it is (or it certainly should be) all about the kids.

You're a Mom, You Know.  And this one sums it up. No matter what kind of mom we choose to be, we all get it, because we're Moms.



We did it!  Two other working mom friends managed to escape to the New Hampshire mountains last weekend. We left our husbands and kids behind, and we enjoyed the break and the company. It was freezing cold, but it was gorgeous. We skied, we ate good food, we marveled at the ease of getting ready without kids in tow, and we talked a lot about how hard it is to keep up with everything at home. I then came home mentally recharged and physically sore in the best way.  

Now I'm back at it. Work is pretty crazy at the moment, and it seems it will remain that way for the next few months. I find myself back in survival mode. I'm happy I have another break coming up, though - more time in the mountains, this time Vermont, and this time with the whole family and our best friends. We will ski, catch up, laugh, play, and relax at least a little. It's going to be great and I can't wait. 

In the meantime, I'm going to work on fighting this annoying little cold I seem to have brought home with me. I'm going to plan some meetings with friends who I haven't seen in a while.  I'm going to organize something in the house. I'm going to stare in awe at the amount of snow in our yard. And I'm going to continue to live in the moment, soaking up the little joys in every day.


Memories and Snow...

It's time for me to start meditating on a regular basis again. I have never been very good at it, but just the act of sitting still for a few minutes and calming my thoughts does wonders for me. Last night, I found myself getting snippy with my kids and then my husband, and I know that I get that way when I'm stretched too far. My goal for the coming weeks will be to find a way to sit still and take a few deep breaths from time to time. 

We watched the movie "Boyhood" last weekend, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's not exciting, and my husband dozed on and off throughout the movie. But it's beautiful. There were several aspects of the boy's childhood that I could relate to my own, and I thought about what my own movie would look like. What are main memories I have of my childhood - the big moments as well as the little, seemingly insignificant ones that have stuck with me all these years?  They've been playing in my head all week. How did they influence who I am today?

As I read to the boys this week, one snuggled in on each side, I thought about their childhoods. They are really only now getting to the point of forming lasting memories, especially my little Nathan. I think about the kind of childhood they're having. On one hand, I only want them to have happy memories, and yet at the same time I know that we all grow through the hard parts. I also know that I will not always be the biggest influence in their lives. Love is letting go, little by little, and allowing them to grow. Figuring out when to hold on and when to let go is the trick, and we're only at the beginning.


After too much work lately, I am very much looking forward to a family-focused weekend. We're set to get our first snowstorm of the winter tomorrow, which means movies and hot chocolate and snuggling in front of the fireplace. On Sunday, after the storm passes, we will be playing in the snow. Hoping to get a day on the slopes nearby.

Making memories...


Ages and Ages - Do the Right Thing

I just love this song and this video. It makes me smile. This album was put back into heavy rotation over the last couple of weeks - it seems to fit my mood and desire to keep things light and energetic during this cold and dreary January.  

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